Experiencing a loss isn’t something that happens and then everything returns to normal. Those who have suffered a loss, know that grief is much longer lasting and impactful than expected. Grief comes and goes in waves, with the stages of grief being different for everyone involved.
When an employee suffers from a loss, it’s important for their supervisors, including HR representatives, to allow them the space and time to grieve. Bereavement time is often a part of every company’s policy, but continuing to take care of an employee once the bereavement period has ended is equally important to provide.
How can companies care for grieving employees?
It’s important, as a manager, to remember that your employees are unique individuals with personal lives and emotions, and not simply staff members. In order to look out for your employees and show how you care for them as people, it’s crucial to reach out and show your support when they are struggling. There are a number of ways companies can care for their employees who have recently experienced a loss. These may include:
Reaching out to express condolences and let them know of your support during this time in a way that shows you care for them as a person, not simply as an employee
Grant a bereavement leave if appropriate
Adjust their workload
Allow them to work from home if their job can be done remotely
Understand that they may take time to return to their full productivity and/or energy level and be compassionate with the process
Reiterate that you’re there for them if they need to talk to you about any part of the grieving process
Encourage them to seek out grief counseling provided by the company’s EAP
A number of companies grant their employees access to an EAP (employee assistance program) where they can receive confidential, convenient counseling services, including grief counseling.
EAP grief counseling
Seeking help from a grief counselor is something grieving employees often consider. However, they may not always think to check with their EAP provider first. In many cases, employee assistance programs offer counseling services to help employees deal with grief and loss. Managers and HR professionals are encouraged to make sure their employees are aware of the grief counseling services available to them through the company’s EAP benefits.
EAP providers can also assist companies in creating a more supportive work environment for bereaved employees by conducting educational workshops for the entire staff. The main purpose of these sessions is to help employees better understand how they can support a co-worker dealing with grief. Colleagues attending bereavement workshops can learn about the different aspects of grief in a safe, judgment-free environment while gaining a better understanding of what to say and what not to say to a grieving co-worker.
Additional benefits of seeking EAP grief counseling include:
The ability to talk with a provider who can help your staff member process their emotions in a safe, confidential environment
The unique chance to work with an EAP provider who is knowledgeable in regards to balancing work and life can be extremely beneficial when one is trying to balance the emotions of grief with the requirements and obligations of work
A flexible, free service that can be worked into your employee’s schedule without the hassle
If a member of your staff has experienced a loss recently, encourage them to seek out the grief counseling benefits provided by your EAP.
Helping managers engage with the grieving process
While colleagues may be more likely to turn to one another for support in times of grief, it is just as important for managers and HR professionals to understand how they can assist a bereaved employee. EAP providers can help train managers to recognize the signs that an employee is struggling with grief. EAPs can also help an organization’s HR team establish bereavement policies or update existing ones. Don’t be afraid to speak directly with an EAP grief counselor yourself to learn the best way you can provide for your staff.
To learn more about the benefits an employee assistance program offers to your company in addition to grief counseling, reach out to Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP today. Call our offices today at (800) 543-5080 or contact us anytime.